The Likes of Us 2009

‘I was still blown away by the show’

Eskdale & Liddesdale Advertiser



The Reviews

nodaCENTRE STAGE YOUTH THEATRE The Likes Of Us 19 — 22 August 2009

Following the success of Centre Stage’s debut performance last year, they have been extremely ambitious by taking on ‘The Likes of Us’ as one of only a handful of Societies and the second in Scotland to perform this new musical.

The cast threw themselves into this show with gusto and Judith’s direction gave a lot of newcomers the chance to excel which they did and provided an excellent performance to a high standard combined with an enjoyable experience.

The principals were all excellent in their roles and I don’t think I could pick any one individual out as they were all as good as each other.

I particularly liked the way the narrator’s role was spread about the cast with different people having a little to say, rather than one individual.

All in all, a very enjoyable experience with a new show performed with professionalism and enjoyment.

The Likes Of Us’ was directed by Judith Johnson and produced by Chris Jones.




Wednesday, 26 August 2009    Every minute unmissable

YOU could not get away from the huge banners and publicity that Centre Stage Theatre employed to publicise their production The Likes of Us, so those of you who didn’t see it, saying that you didn’t know it was on or that you meant to go, missed a fabulous show.

In April I attended the ‘get to know the show’ day in the community centre and heard some of the music which the show had to offer. The ‘team’ gave a synopsis and shared their own ideas on proposed staging.

There was such a positive atmosphere that day from the youngsters and helpers that it was clear they were up for the challenge.

Over the next few months I was aware of certain castings and had progress reports from members of the production team but I was still blown away by the show.

The minute you walked through the door you were greeted by the ‘waifs’ and ‘strays’ selling programmes. The atmosphere was buzzing and it really set the scene by giving the audience a taste of the striking costumes.

The introduction, when the cast walked on stage, was so animated and slick that it was hard to believe this was the opening night. The senior chorus were strong and confident and their songs came across very well.

The junior chorus acted their socks off and were very believable as orphaned children. Their singing was particularly impressive, with some lovely individual performances.

There were some parts which the kids performed on alternate nights. This was a great idea because it gave them all a chance to perform and increased the ticket sales, with some parents attending on more than one night.

It is unfair to single out anyone in this production but it would be amiss not to mention the principals who stood out. Ama Sulter was stunning to watch. She has a quality that draws any audience’s attention and her portrayal of Rose was fabulous. Pemma Ellis was her sidekick Ivy and she, too, played her part well.

Jenny was played by Hannah Cumming and her on/off boyfriend Johnny was played by Daniel Scott. Together they were the cheeky Cockneys that everyone warmed to and their affection towards each other was quite believable, especially in their song Love is Here, which was very well sung.

Craig Pool stole the audience’s attention when he sang a verse with the junior chorus and turned on the old Pool ‘charm’. You could see he is his granddad all over and that can be only a good thing. Rebecca Jackson, as Syrie, wowed the audience with her beautiful voice and clearly enjoyed every minute of being on stage.

The star of the show was Grant Anderson, who fitted the lead role of Dr Barnardo perfectly. He sang with such confidence and used his presence to command the stage at every opportunity. It was a magical performance and one that brought a genuine tear to my eye on many occasions.

Two particular scenes deserve praise. Going Going Gone, the song in which Dr Barnardo bought Edinburgh Castle in an auction, and Have Another Cup of Tea were both staged and performed well.

The costumes for the latter were particularly special and a highlight was when Henry Jeffrey popped up from the band and sang a verse of the song.

A production such as this involves many people offstage, from costume supervisor and chaperones to those who work tirelessly behind the scenes in ways an audience can only begin to imagine. A massive well done to them.

Pearl Mitchell is someone who can always be relied upon to look after everyone and is an asset to Centre Stage Theatre. The vocal coach, Anne Halliday, must be credited for her achievement. Andrew Lloyd Webber music is very complicated but the cast showed they had been taught well.

Finally, I would like to congratulate director Judith Johnson and producer Chris Jones on a marvellous show. You took a pile of books and created a bit of magic for four nights. Your dedication to the young folks in the town is something to be admired.

Centre Stage Youth Theatre’s next production is The Boyfriend. Book early. If this show is anything to go by, you won’t be disappointed.





Rice and LLoyd Webber treat for theatre group – Wednesday, 19 November 2008

LANGHOLM’S new theatre group is hoping to be one of the first to perform a musical written by the legendary duo Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Judith Johnson and Chris Jones, founders of Centre Stage Theatre, were delighted to receive the news from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group that they’d been granted a licence for the musical The Likes of Us.

Judith said: “After the success of our first production Little Shop of Horrors we’ve been looking for another musical for 2009 with some good parts for a younger cast. The Likes of Us is a fantastic opportunity that we just couldn’t miss.

“It’s the story of the life of Dr Thomas Barnardo, a man who was evangelical, entrepreneurial and philanthropic, and whose crusade to rescue children living on the streets became world-renowned.

“It’s been described as a musical that has existed for 40 years hidden away from view and contains some of Webber and Rice’s most tuneful, witty and touching songs.”

The Likes of Us was the first collaboration between the award-winning team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Although written in 1965, The Likes of Us has only ever been performed twice.

The first was a private performance at Lloyd Webber’s own Sydmonton Festival at his stately home in Berkshire in 2005 and the second was for one night only at the Mermaid Theatre in London.

Rice and Lloyd Webber moved on to global hits such as Joseph, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar. However, The Likes of Us was never forgotten and now, with the approval of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, it is being launched by the Really Useful Group in 2009 prior to its professional release and eventual appearance in the West End.

Chris said: “The Likes of Us will need much more planning than for many productions as there are few or no past production notes we can use. It’s very much a blank canvas for us to design what the show will look like and how we stage it.

“We’re hoping after this year’s show we can bring together another strong team to bring it to Buccleuch Centre stage.”

A portion of the proceeds from the productions of The Likes of Us through to 2010 will be donated to the Barnardo Children’s Charity.